israel’s concentration camps

 

On Israel’s little-known concentration and labor camps in 1948-1955

Civilians captured during the fall of Lydda and Ramle around the time of July 12, 1948 and taken to labour camps. In the July heat they were thirsty and were given a drop of water carried by a child under soldiers’ guard. (Photo: Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society)

By Yazan al-Saadi | Al-Akhbar | September 29, 2014

Much of the grim and murky circumstances of the Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in the late 1940s have gradually been exposed over time. One aspect – rarely researched or deeply discussed – is the internment of thousands of Palestinian civilians within at least 22 Zionist-run concentration and labor camps that existed from 1948 to 1955. Now more is known about the contours of this historical crime, due to the comprehensive research by renowned Palestinian historian Salman Abu Sitta and founding member of the Palestinian resource center BADIL Terry Rempel.

The facts are these.

The study – to be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies – relies on almost 500 pages of International Committee of the Red Cross’s (ICRC) reports written during the 1948 war, that were declassified and made available to the public in 1996, and accidentally discovered by one of the authors in 1999.

Furthermore, testimonies of 22 former Palestinian civilian detainees of these camps were collected by the authors, through interviews they conducted themselves in 2002, or documented by others during different moments of time.

With these sources of information, the authors, as they put it, pieced together a clearer story of how Israel captured and imprisoned “thousands of Palestinian civilians as forced laborers,” and exploited them “to support its war-time economy.”

Digging up the crimes

“I came across this piece of history in the 1990s when I was collecting material and documents about Palestinians,” Abu Sitta told Al-Akhbar English. “The more and more you dig, the more you find there are crimes that have taken place that are not reported and not known.”

At that time, Abu Sitta went to Geneva for a week to check out the newly-opened archives of the ICRC. According to him, the archives were opened to the public after accusations that the ICRC had sided with the Nazis during World War II. It was an opportunity that he could not miss in terms of seeing what the ICRC had recorded of the events that occurred in Palestine in 1948. It was there he stumbled onto records discussing the existence of five concentration camps run by the Israelis.

He then decided to look for witnesses or former detainees, interviewing Palestinians in occupied Palestine, Syria, and Jordan.

“They all described the same story, and their real experience in these camps,” he said.

One question that immediately struck him was why there were barely any references in history about these camps, especially when it became clearer the more he researched that they existed, and were more than just five camps.

“Many former Palestinian detainees saw the concept of Israel as a vicious enemy, so they thought their experience labouring in these concentration camps was nothing in comparison to the other larger tragedy of the Nakba. The Nakba overshadowed everything,” Abu Sitta explained.“However, when I dug into the period of 1948-1955, I found more references like Mohammed Nimr al-Khatib, who was an imam in Haifa, who had written down interviews with someone from al-Yahya family that was in one of the camps. I was able to trace this man all the way to California and spoke with him in 2002,” he added.

More references were eventually and slowly discovered by Abu Sitta that included information from a Jewish woman called Janoud, a single masters thesis in Hebrew University about the topic, and the personal accounts of economist Yusif Sayigh, helped to further flesh out the scale and nature of these camps.

After more than a decade, Abu Sitta, with his co-author Rempel, are finally presenting their findings to the public.

From burden to opportunity: concentration and labor camps

The establishment of concentration and labor camps occurred after the unilateral declaration of Israel’s statehood on May 1948.

Prior to that event, the number of Palestinian captives in Zionist hands were quite low, because, as the study states, “the Zionist leadership concluded early on that forcible expulsion of the civilian population was the only way to establish a Jewish state in Palestine with a large enough Jewish majority to be ‘viable’.” In other words, for the Zionist strategists, prisoners were a burden in the beginning phases of the ethnic cleansing.

Those calculations changed with the declaration of the Israeli state and the involvement of the armies of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Transjordan, after much of the ethnic cleansing had occurred. From that moment, “the Israeli forces began taking prisoners, both regular Arab soldiers (for eventual exchange), and – selectively – able-bodied Palestinian non-combatant civilians.”

The first camp at Ijlil, which was about 13 km northeast of Jaffa, on the site of the destroyed Palestinian village Ijlil al-Qibiliyya, emptied of its inhabitants in early April. Ijlil was predominately made up of tents, housing hundreds and hundreds of prisoners, categorized as POWs by the Israelis, surrounded by barbed wire fences, watchtowers, and a gate with guards.

As the Israeli conquests grew, in turn exceedingly increasing the number of prisoners, three more camps were established. These are the four “official” camps that the Israelis acknowledged and were actively visited by the ICRC.

The study notes:

All four camps were either on or adjacent to military installations set up by the British during the Mandate. These had been used during World War II for the interment of German, Italian, and other POWs. Two of the camps – Atlit, established in July about 20 kms south of Haifa, and Sarafand, established in September near the depopulated village of Sarafand al-Amar in central Palestine—had earlier been used in the 1930s and 1940s to detain illegal Jewish immigrants.

Atlit was the second largest camp after Ijlil, it had the capacity of holding up to 2,900 prisoners, while Sarafand had the maximum capacity of 1,800, and Tel Letwinksy, near Tel Aviv, held more than 1,000.

All four camps were administered by “former British officers who had defected their ranks when British forces withdrew from Palestine in mid-May 1948,” and the camp’s guards and administrative staff were former members of the Irgun and the Stern Gang – both groups designated as terrorist organizations by the British before their departure. In total, the four “official” camps were staffed by 973 soldiers.

A fifth camp, called Umm Khalid, was established at a site of another depopulated village near the Zionist settlement of Netanya, and was even assigned an official number in the records, but never attained “official” status. It had the capacity to hold 1,500 prisoners. Unlike the other four camps, Umm Khalid would be “the fist camp established exclusively as a labor camp” and was “the first of the “recognized” camps to be shut down… by the end of 1948.”

Complementing these five “recognized” camps, were at least 17 other “unrecognized camps” that were not mentioned in official sources, but the authors discovered through multiple prisoner testimonies.

Civilians in a labour camp in Ramleh, July 1948. (Photo: Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society)

“Many of [these camps],” the authors noted, “[were] apparently improvised or ad hoc, often consisting of no more than a police station, a school, or the house of a village notable,” with holding capacities that ranged from almost 200 prisoners to tens.

Most of the camps, official and unofficial, were situated within the borders of the UN-proposed Jewish state, “although at least four [unofficial camps] – Beersheba, Julis, Bayt Daras, and Bayt Nabala – were in the UN-assigned Arab state and one was inside the Jerusalem “corpus separatum.”

The number of Palestinian non-combatant detainees “far exceeded” those of Arab soldiers in regular armies or bona fide POWs. Citing a July 1948 monthly report made by ICRC mission head Jacques de Reynier, the study states that de Reynier noted, “that the situation of civilian internees was ‘absolutely confused’ with that of POWs, and that the Jewish authorities ‘treated all Arabs between the ages of 16 and 55 as combatants and locked them up as prisoners of war.’” In addition, the ICRC found among the detainees in official camps, that 90 of the prisoners were elderly men, and 77 were boys, aged 15 years or younger. The study highlights the statements by an ICRC delegate Emile Moeri in January 1949 of the camp inmates:

It is painful to see these poor people, especially old, who were snatched from their villages and put without reason in a camp, obliged to pass the winter under wet tents, away from their families; those who could not survive these conditions died. Little children (10-12 years) are equally found under these conditions. Similarly sick people, some with tuberculosis, languish in these camps under conditions which, while fine for healthy individuals, will certainly lead to their death if we do not find a solution to this problem. For a long time we have demanded that the Jewish authorities release those civilians who are sick and need treatment to the care of their families or to an Arab hospital, but we have not received a response.

As the report noted, “there are no precise figures on the total number of Palestinian civilians held by Israel during the 1948-49 war” and estimates tend to not account for “unofficial” camps, in addition to the frequent movement of prisoners between the camps in use. In the four “official” camps, the number of Palestinian prisoners never exceeded 5,000 according to figures in Israeli records.

Taking account of the capacity of Umm Khalid, and estimates of the “unofficial camps,” the final number of Palestinian prisoners could be around the 7,000 range, and perhaps much more when, as the study states, taking into account a November 17, 1948 diary entry by David Ben-Gurion, one of the main Zionist leaders and Israel’s first prime minister, who mentioned “the existence of 9,000 POWs in Israeli-run camps.”

In general, the living conditions in the “official” camps were far below what would be considered appropriate by international law at that time. Moeri, who visited the camps constantly, reported that in Ijlil in November 1948:

“[m]any [of the] tents are torn, that the camp was “not ready for winter,” the latrines not covered, and the canteen not working for two weeks. Referring to an apparently ongoing situation, he stated that “the fruits are still defective, the meat is of poor quality, [and] the vegetables are in short supply.”

Furthermore, Moeri reported that he saw for himself, “the wounds left by the abuse” of the previous week, when the guards had fired on the prisoners, wounding one, and had beaten another.”

As the study shows, the civilian status of the majority of the detainees were clear for the ICRC delegates in the country, who reported that the men captured “had undoubtedly never been in a regular army.” Detainees who were combatants, the study explains, were “routinely shot on the pretense that they had been attempting to escape.”

The Israeli forces seemed to always target able-bodied men, leaving behind women, children, and the elderly – when not massacring them – the policy continued even after there were low levels of military confrontation. All in all, as the Israeli records show and the study cites, “Palestinian civilians comprised the vast majority (82 percent) of the 5,950 listed as internees in the POW camps, while the Palestinians alone (civilian plus military) comprised 85 percent.”

The wide-scale kidnapping and imprisonment of Palestinian civilians tend to correspond with the Israeli military campaigns. For example, one of the first major roundups occurred during Operation Danj, when 60-70,000 Palestinians were expelled from the central towns of Lydda and Ramleh. At the same time, between a fifth and a quarter of the male population from these two towns who were over the age of 15 were sent to the camps.

The largest round-up of civilians came from villages of central Galilee who were captured during Operation Hiram in the fall of 1948.

One Palestinian survivor, Moussa, described to the authors what he witnessed at the time.

“They took us from all villages around us: al-Bi’na, Deir al-Asad, Nahaf, al-Rama, and Eilabun. They took 4 young men and shot them dead… They drove us on foot. It was hot. We were not allowed to drink. They took us to [the Palestinian Druze village] al-Maghar, then [to the Jewish settlement] Nahalal, then to Atlit.”

A November 16, 1948 UN report collaborated Moussa’s account, stating that some 500 Palestinian men “were taken by force march and vehicle to a Jewish concentration camp at Nahlal.”

Maintaining Israel’s economy with “slave labor”

The policy of targeting civilians, particular “able-bodied” men, was not accidental according to the study. It states, “with tens of thousands of Jewish men and women called up for military service, Palestinian civilian internees constituted an important supplement to the Jewish civilian labor employed under emergency legislation in maintaining the Israeli economy,” which even the ICRC delegation had noted in their reports.

The prisoners were forced to do public and military work, such as draining wetlands, working as servants, collecting and transporting looted refugee property, moving stones from demolished Palestinian homes, paving roads, digging military trenches, burying the dead, and much more. As one former Palestinian detainee named Habib Mohammed Ali Jarada described in the study, “At gunpoint, I was made to work all day. At night, we slept in tents. In winter, water was seeping below our bedding, which was dry leaves, cartons and wooden pieces.”

Another prisoner in Umm Khalied, Marwan Iqab al-Yehiya said in an interview with the authors, “We had to cut and carry stones all day [in a quarry]. Our daily food was only one potato in the morning and half dried fish at night. They beat anyone who disobeyed orders.” This labor was interspersed with acts of humiliation by the Israeli guards, with Yehiya speaking of prisoners being “lined up and ordered to strip naked as a punishment for the escape of two prisoners at night.”

“[Jewish] Adults and children came from nearby kibbutz to watch us line up naked and laugh. To us this was most degrading,” he added.

Abuses by the Israeli guards were systematic and rife in the camps, the brunt of which was directed toward villagers, farmers, and lower class Palestinians. This was so, the study said, because educated prisoners “knew their rights and had the confidence to argue with and stand up to their captors.”

What is also interestingly noted by the study is how ideological affiliations between prisoners and their guards, had another effect in terms of the relationship between them. The study, cites the testimony of Kamal Ghattas, who was captured during the Israeli attack in the Galilee, who said:

We had a fight with our jailers. Four hundred of us confronted 100 soldiers. They brought reinforcements. Three of my friends and I were taken to a cell. They threatened to shoot us. All night we sang the Communist Anthem. They took the four of us to Umm Khaled camp. The Israelis were afraid of their image in Europe. Our contact with our Central Committee and Mapam [Socialist Israeli party] saved us .… I met a Russian officer and told him they took us from our homes although we were non-combatants which was against the Geneva Conventions. When he knew I was a Communist he embraced me and said, “Comrade, I have two brothers in the Red Army. Long live Stalin. Long Live Mother Russia”.

Yet, the less fortunate Palestinians faced acts of violence which included arbitrary executions and torture, with no recourse. The executions were always defended as stopping “escape attempts” – real or claimed by the guards.

It became so common that one former Palestinian detainee of Tel Litwinsky, Tewfic Ahmed Jum’a Ghanim recounted, “Anyone who refused to work was shot. They said [the person] tried to escape. Those of us who thought [we] were going to be killed walked backward facing the guards.”

Ultimately, by the end of 1949, Palestinian prisoners were gradually released after heavy lobbying by the ICRC, and other organizations, but was limited in scale and very focused to specific cases. Prisoners of Arab armies were released in prisoner exchanges, but Palestinian prisoners were unilaterally expelled across the armistice line without any food, supplies, or shelter, and told to walk into the distance, never to return.

It would not be until 1955 that most of the Palestinian civilian prisoners would finally be released.

Forced Labour Camps Atlas. (Source: Salman Abu Sitta, Palestine Land Society)

An enduring crime

The importance of this study is multi-faceted. Not only does it reveal the numerous violations of international law and conventions of the age, such as 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1929 Geneva Conventions, but also shows how the event shaped the ICRC in the long run.

Because the ICRC was faced with an Israeli belligerent actor who was unwilling to listen and conform to international law and conventions, the ICRC itself had to adapt in what it considered were practical ways to help ensure the Palestinian civilian prisoners were protected under the barest of rights.

Citing his final report, the study quotes de Reynier:

[The ICRC] protested on numerous occasions affirming the right of these civilians to enjoy their freedom unless found guilty and judged by a court. But we have tacitly accepted their POW status because in this way they would enjoy the rights conferred upon them by the Convention. Otherwise, if they were not in the camps they would be expelled [to an Arab country] and in one way or another, they would lead, without resources, the miserable life of refugees.

In the end, the ICRC, and other organizations, were simply ineffective as Israel ignored its condemnations with impunity, in addition to the diplomatic cover of major Western powers.

More importantly, the study sheds more light on the extent of the Israeli crimes during its brutal and bloody birth. And “much more remains to be told,” as the final line of the study states.

“It is amazing to me, and many Europeans, who have seen my evidence,” Abu Sitta said, “that a forced labor camp was opened in Palestine three years after they were closed in Germany, and were run by former prisoners – there were German Jewish guards.”

“This is a bad reflection of the human spirit, where the oppressed copies an oppressor against innocent lives,” he added. The study essentially shows the foundations and beginnings of Israeli policy towards Palestinian civilians that comes in the form of kidnapping, arrest, and detainment. This criminality continues till this day. One merely has to read the reports on the hundreds of Palestinians arrested prior, during, and after Israel’s latest war on Gaza mid-summer of this year.

“Gaza today is a concentration camp, no different than the past,” Abu Sitta concluded to Al-Akhbar English.

Yazan is a staff writer for Al-Akhbar English. Follow him on Twitter: @WhySadeye

 

israel’s war on Palestine’s water supplies: UNICEF-funded water pipeline destroyed in Jordan Valley

Israeli forces destroy UNICEF-funded water pipeline in Jordan Valley

Ma’an – February 20, 2017

 

(File)

NABLUS (Ma’an) — Israeli forces demolished a water pipeline in the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank on Monday, after the same pipeline was destroyed earlier this month, according to local sources.

 
Muataz Bisharat, a local official who monitors Israeli activities in the Jordan Valley, told Ma’an that Israeli bulldozers destroyed the eight-and-a-half kilometers pipeline running between the Bedouin communities of al-Hadidiya and al-Ras al-Ahmar in the northern Jordan Valley, east of the Tubas district.
He said that 47 Palestinian families depended on the pipeline as their water source.
According to Bisharat, the pipeline was funded by international humanitarian organization UNICEF, at a construction cost of 12,500 euros (approximately $13,270). He said that it was the second time this month that Israeli forces had destroyed the pipeline.
A spokesperson for Israel’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), which is responsible for implementing the Israeli government’s policy in the occupied Palestinian territory, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the incident.
Following a spate of demolitions targeting Bedouin communities in the occupied West Bank last year, which included the destruction of a new drinking water network supported by UNICEF, the UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Palestine Robert Piper warned of the risk of forcible transfer of Bedouin communities.
“Repeated rounds of demolitions, restrictions on access to basic services and regular visits by Israeli security personnel promoting ‘relocation plans’ are all part of a coercive environment that now surrounds these vulnerable Palestinian households,” Piper said at the time, highlighting that Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley already suffered from extreme water scarcity.
UNOCHA documented in 2016 the highest number of demolitions in the occupied territory since the agency first began recording them.
Since the beginning of 2017, Israeli forces carried out demolitions in the Jordan Valley on at least six other occasions, in addition to seizing irrigation hoses in the region.
According to UNICEF, which manages and funds projects in the Jordan Valley to improve water and sanitation infrastructure, lack of clean water in the occupied territory forces Palestinians to make “unhealthy compromises” by trading off between household or personal hygiene.
Amnesty International estimates that up to 200,000 Palestinians in the West Bank do not have access to running water.
Meanwhile, just half of Palestinian proposals for wells and improvement projects to the water network were approved by Israel between 1995 and 2008, compared to a 100 percent approval rate for Israeli projects, according to Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq.
As a result, demolitions of Palestinian infrastructure and residences occur frequently in areas fully controlled by the Israeli military, known as Area C.
Some 88 percent of the Jordan Valley is classified as Area C , making the region’s Bedouin and herding communities particularly vulnerable to such policies.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum tells Netanyahu to end abuse of Palestinian children

Source

Palestinian children protest to show solidarity with child prisoners in Israeli jails, Gaza city, January 2015.

Mohammed Asad APA images

 

A member of Congress said she had “a clear message” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Washington on Wednesday: he must respect the rights of Palestinian children.

As US President Donald Trump and the Israeli leader held a joint press conference at the White House, Representative Betty McCollum of Minnesota challenged Israel’s systematic abuses of Palestinian children in a post on Facebook.

“Israel’s military detention system arrests, interrogates and prosecutes as many as 700 Palestinian children – as young as 11 years old – every year,” McCollum says. “Abuse is rampant and children often have no lawyer or parent present during detention and interrogation.”

“Israel must end the abusive military detention of Palestinian children,” she adds. “Israeli children, Palestinian children – all children – should be able to live free of systematic, state-sponsored human rights abuses! Respecting the human rights of children is the only path to peace and security in the Middle East.”

McCollum also took to Twitter to demand accountability from Netanyahu:

     Rep. Betty McCollum

 @BettyMcCollum04

As @netanyahu visits today, Israel must respect human rights & end abusive military detention of Palestinian children. 

Breaking silence

McCollum continues to break with the vast majority of US lawmakers who refuse to challenge Israeli policy.

In June 2015, the Democrat authored a letter, co-signed by 18 other members of Congress, demanding that the Obama adminstration push Israel to end its abuses of Palestinian children.

Two months later, the lawmaker called for sanctions on the Israeli Border Police unit responsible for killing Palestinian teenagers Nadim Nuwara and Muhammad Abu al-Thahir on 15 May 2014.

The boys were shot in cold blood at a Nakba Day protest – their killings caught on video – near the Ofer military prison in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia.

McCollum initiated another push in June 2016 urging Obama to appoint a special envoy to protect the rights of Palestinian children under Israeli occupation. Lawmakers who signed McCollum’s letter condemned Israel’s rampant use of administrative detention – incarceration without charge or trial – against Palestinian children in Israeli military jails.

Grassroots activists with the No Way to Treat a Child campaign – a joint initiative of Defense for Children International – Palestine and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – have been working closely with lawmakers on the issue of Palestinian children in detention.

“Congresswoman McCollum’s leadership and integrity inspires us,” AFSC’s Jennifer Bing told The Electronic Intifada.

“Her voice is among a growing number of Congress members who are speaking up for the human rights of Palestinian children – children who face systematic oppression and denial of rights by the Israeli army,” Bing added.

Inspired by the No Way to Treat a Child campaign in the US, activists in Australia gathered the support of 49 members of Parliament last November on a letter calling for Israel to end its abuses of Palestinian children

Netanyahu cheated US taxpayers under four different IDs when he was studying in United States

Pastor Baldwin: Why I hate Netanyahu

bomb3[1]When American horror books author Stephen King wrote: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us” – being a Christian Zionist, I’m sure he was not talking about Benjamin Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been fooling Americans before joining politics. He cheated US taxpayers under four different IDs when he was studying in United States. He inherited this and many other immoral characteristics from his father Benzion Netanyahu (d. 2012) – a Jew terrorist.

The Israeli weekly Ha’ir reports that four requests for credit approval appear in the US social security file number 020-36-4537. Under each request one finds a different name: Benjamin Netanyahu, Benjamin Nitai, John Jay Sullivan and John Jay Sullivan Jr. – one man, four names (here).

Charles (Chuck) Baldwin, 64, American pastor, politician, radio host, and blogger posted an article on February 9, entitled, Is Netanyahu Finished?. In the article the good pastor claims that people around world are finding out that Netanyahu is a serial liar – he lied about Muslim threat to the US, and Syria, Iran, and Iraq are threat to American interests in the region. currently, he is being investigated at home for corruption.

The removal of Netanyahu from office would be a very good thing for the entire world. The problem is the State of Israel is controlled by about 20 mega-rich Zionist families. To think that these power-brokers would replace Bibi with a truly honest man is as likely as the sun rising in the west tomorrow morning,” pastor said.

Is Baldwin anti-Israel? Nope. He believes that Israel has enough military power to wipe out any country in the Middle East, and it doesn’t need Washington’s permission to do that. However, Baldwin believes that Israeli interests are not necessarily American interests, therefore, American should stop pampering the Zionist regime. How Baldwin knows about Israel’s military strength? It could be judged by his knowledge of the Middle East from the following statement:

America continues to furnish Israel’s enemies with three times more aid and assistance than it does Israel. Three times. Is that being a blessing to Israel? America gives unflinching and magnanimous support to militant Muslim governments such as Saudi Arabia. There is no nation in the Middle East that has harbored, trained, supplied, and supported more terrorists than Saudi Arabia. Is that being a blessing to Israel? In addition, every time an American President wants to meddle in Middle Eastern affairs, he insists that Israel give up land for peace,” wrote Baldwin on his blog on January 15, 2008 while endorsing Congressman Ron Paul.

Professor Melvin A. Goodman, former CIA analyst and author claimed in July 2013 that Israel receives 46% of total annual USAID.

On February 15, 2017, American Jewish journalist, author, academic, and contributing editor at The Atlantic, and The Daily Jewish Forward, professor Peter Alexander Beinart penned an article, entitled, “How Benjamin Netanyahu Played Us On The Iran Deal – And We Let him“.

The political barriers that Netanyahu faced two years ago are gone. He and Trump are now free to renounce the Iran nuclear deal, and thus, by Netanyahu’s logic, prevent a second Shoah. Or, failing that, Netanyahu could take matters into his own hands and bomb Iran’s nuclear sites himself, secure in the knowledge that Trump is less likely than Obama to object,” Beinart said.

Netanyahu may kiss Trump for ‘tearing Iran nuclear agreement’, but that wouldn’t effect Iran because it signed the agreement with UN’s five permanent members and Germany – not just United States. Russia, China, Germany, and France would refuse to follow Trump’s decision because they all need Iranian oil money ($410 billion/year). Even Pentagon’s to gun Gen. James Mattis supports the agreement.

Netanyahu, for all his thunderous emotion, wasn’t being honest when he railed against the nuclear agreement. He wasn’t actually worried that the deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb. His real concern was that it would improve relations between Washington and Tehran, thus empowering Israel’s greatest regional foe, and reducing America’s dependence on Israel. Now that the chances of a US-Iranian détente have diminished (thanks to the Zionist shill in the White House), so have Netanyahu’s fears about the nuclear deal. In speaking to Americans, Netanyahu emphasized the nuclear issue because it allowed him to invoke the specter of the Holocaust, which is what he’s been doing his entire career,” Beinart said.

israel demolished record number of homes in 2016

Israel demolished record number of homes in 2016

The Israeli organisation accused Israeli government of using demolition policies to steal the Palestinian lands

Israeli occupation demolished a “record number of Palestinian homes in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2016,” Israeli rights group B’Tselem announced on Tuesday.
“The scale of demolitions documented by B’Tselem this year is the most extensive since we began systematically documenting demolitions in 2004,” the report pointed out.

Israeli occupation demolished a “record number of Palestinian homes in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in 2016,” Israeli rights group B’Tselem announced on Tuesday.

Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B’Tselem) said in a report that the Israeli occupation authorities carry out the demolition of Palestinian homes under the pretext that they are “lacking building permits.”

“The scale of demolitions documented by B’Tselem this year is the most extensive since we began systematically documenting demolitions in 2004,” the report pointed out.

It noted that “in East Jerusalem, the authorities demolished 88 residential buildings and 48 other structures. Elsewhere in the West Bank, the authorities demolished 274 residential buildings and 372 non-residential ones.”

The Israeli organisation said that these demolitions are indicative of Israel’s efforts to limit Palestinian presence in the areas it seeks to take over, taking advantage of planning and administrative tools to that end.

“The state is forcing tens of thousands of people to live in inhuman conditions, without basic living conditions and with no hope or possibility of bettering their situation,” B’Tselem concluded.

“This policy, implemented on the ground for years, is unlawful and immoral. It constitutes the forcible transfer of protected Palestinian residents within the occupied territory, whether directly, through the demolition of their homes, or indirectly, through the creation of impossible living conditions.”

B’Tselem added that this policy offers decisive evidence that Israel has long-term plans to continue controlling the area, while oppressing and dispossessing its residents.

israel’s ethnic cleansing by destroying homes

People clearance by home wreckage

Residents of Badiw a-Mu’arrajat whose home was demolished. Photo by ‘Aref Daraghmeh, B’Tselem, 1 Sept. 2016

2016 sees Israel demolish record number of West Bank homes

Demolishes 274 homes in West Bank, leaving 1,134 Palestinians – half of them minors – homeless.

By B’Tselem
February 14, 2017

2016 saw a marked increase in the number of homes Israeli authorities demolished throughout the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, citing lack of building permits as a pretext. The scale of demolitions documented by B’Tselem this year is the most extensive since we began systematically documenting demolitions in 2004. In East Jerusalem, authorities demolished 88 residential buildings and 48 other structures. Elsewhere in the West Bank, authorities demolished 274 residential buildings and 372 non-residential ones. These demolitions are indicative of Israel’s efforts to limit Palestinian presence in the areas it seeks to take over, taking advantage of planning and administrative tools to that end.

The West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem):

In August 2015, Israeli authorities waged an unprecedented demolition campaign across the West Bank, destroying some 100 structures, half of them residential, which were home to over 200 people, including roughly 100 minors. The wave of demolitions, considered at the time as unusually extensive, was unofficially halted in late 2015 due to the Jewish and Muslim holidays. Authorities resumed the demolitions in early 2016. As the months went by, what had seemed in late 2015 as exceptionally extensive demolitions became the norm and part of official Israeli policy throughout Area C.

As part of this policy, in 2016, Israel demolished 274 homes in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), thereby rendering homeless 1,134 individuals, including 591 minors. The extent of devastation Israel wreaked in 2016 outstripped the number of homes it demolished in 2014 and 2015 combined.


The demolition in Badu al-Baba community, 26 January 2017. Photo by Hussam Abed, B’Tselem

Demolition operations by the Israeli authorities focused primarily on three major regions: The South Hebron Hills, the Maale Adumim area and the Jordan Valley. Efforts to drive dozens of small shepherding and farming communities out of Area C are particularly palpable in these areas. In the Maale Aumim area, which includes land that Israel refers to as Area E1, authorities demolished 49 dwellings; 224 people, including 115 minors, were rendered homeless. In the South Hebron Hills, in communities facing the threat of expulsion, authorities demolished 34 residences; 166 people, including 87 minors, were rendered homeless. Demolitions were particularly extensive in Jordan Valley communities: 551 people, including 291 minors were left homeless after authorities demolished 123 residences there.

East Jerusalem:


Jerusalem Municipality bulldozer en route to demolish a home in al-‘Esawiyah, East Jerusalem. Photo by Hussam ‘Abed, B’Tselem, 8 Nov. 2016

Israeli authorities continued their discriminatory policies against East Jerusalem’s Palestinian residents as part of an overall policy designed to cause Palestinians to leave the city. Their actions are also part of efforts to achieve a demographic and geographic reality that would frustrate any future attempt to question Israeli sovereignty in East Jerusalem.

In 2016, Israeli authorities demolished 73 homes in East Jerusalem. Fifteen others were demolished by their owners after receiving demolition orders from the municipality. They demolished their own homes in order to avoid being charged by the municipality for the cost of the demolition and hefty municipal fines. All told, authorities rendered homeless 295 people, including 160 minors. This is the largest number of home demolitions recorded in a single year since B’Tselem began documenting home demolitions in East Jerusalem in 2004. Authorities also demolished 48 non-residential structures. These figures reflect a sharp increase in the number of demolitions in East Jerusalem. In contrast, authorities demolished 47 homes in East Jerusalem in 2015.


Zahrah Mahmoud Ayub, 68, from Khirbet al-Himma, next to fresh ruins in the community. Photo by ‘Aref Daraghmeh, B’Tselem, 27 Sept. 2016

To sum up, despite the differences between Area C and East Jerusalem in terms of which authorities operate in each area and the laws applied by Israel, the policy Israel pursues in the two areas is similar, and designed to minimize the number of Palestinians in as much land as possible. Authorities cynically cite illegal construction as a pretext for the demolitions, while at the same time authorities are the ones that prohibit legal construction by Palestinians. They avoid promoting or approving development and construction plans for Palestinians and then say they cannot issue building permits because there are no plans.

Figures recently provided by the Civil Administration to Israeli NGO Bimkom would seem to indicate that in the first six months of 2016 the Civil Administration issued 37 building permits for Palestinians in Area C. This number not only falls far short of meeting the needs of the population, inquiries by Bimkom revealed that the Civil Administration neglected to mention that virtually all the permits (35 permits) were issued at its own request for lots in the al-Jabal West site, where the Civil Administration plans to forcibly move Bedouin communities currently living east of Maale Adumim. This means the number of construction permits in Area C issued in response to applications by Palestinians is practically non-existent.

Israel pursues this demolition policy while wilfully ignoring the reality it creates for Palestinian residents, treating this reality as if state authorities bear no responsibility for it having come about. With no avenue available to them to build legally, Palestinians are left with no choice but to build their homes without permits, and then live in constant fear of losing them and their sources of livelihood to demolition.

The state is forcing tens of thousands of people to live in inhuman conditions, without basic living conditions and with no hope or possibility of bettering their situation. This policy, implemented on the ground for years, is unlawful and immoral. It constitutes the forcible transfer of protected Palestinian residents within the occupied territory, whether directly, through the demolition of their homes, or indirectly, through the creation of impossible living conditions. This policy, which all authorities work to uphold, severely and directly violates the most fundamental human rights of tens of thousands of Palestinians, and indirectly those of hundreds of thousands more. At the same time, the policy also offers decisive evidence that Israel has long-term plans to continue controlling the area, while oppressing and dispossessing its residents.

israel’s Vision for the Future Is Terrifying

Israel’s Vision for the Future Is Terrifying

Empirical historical evidence combined with little commonsense are enough to tell us the type of future options that Israel has in store for the Palestinian people: perpetual apartheid or ethnic cleansing, or a mix of both.

The passing of the “Regularisation Bill” on 6 February is all we need to imagine the Israeli-envisaged future. The new law allows the Israeli government to retroactively recognize Jewish outposts built without official permission on privately-owned Palestinian land.

All settlements – officially recognized settlements and unauthorized outposts – are illegal under international law. The verdict has been passed numerous times by the United Nations and, more recently, pronounced with unmistakable clarity in UN Security Council Resolution 2334.

Israel’s response was the announcement of the construction of over 6,000 new housing units to be built throughout the Occupied Palestinian territories, the construction of a brand new settlement (the first in 20 years), and the new law that paves the way for the annexation of large swathes of the occupied West Bank.

Undoubtedly, the law is the “last nail in the coffin of the two-state solution”, but that is not important. It never mattered to Israel, anyway. The talk of a solution was mere smoke and mirrors as far as Israel was concerned. All the “peace talks” and the entirety of “peace process”, even when it was in its zenith, rarely slowed down the Israeli bulldozers, the construction of more “Jewish homes” or ended the unceasing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

Writing in Newsweek, Diana Buttu described how the process of building settlements is always accompanied by the demolition of Palestinian homes. 140 Palestinian structures were demolished since the beginning of 2017, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Territories.

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as president of America, Israel has felt liberated from its obligation to doublespeak. For decades, Israeli officials spoke passionately about peace, and did everything in their power to hinder its attainment. Now, they simply do not care. Period.

They have perfected their balancing act simply because they had to, because Washington expected it, demanded it. But Trump had given them a blank check: do as you please; settlements are not obstacles to peace; Israel has been “treated very, very unfairly” and I will correct that historical injustice, and so on.

Almost immediately after Trump was inaugurated as president on 20 January, all masks came off.

On 25 January, the real Benjamin Netanyahu resurfaced, dropping his act altogether, and declaring in enviable brazenness: “We are building, and we will continue to build” illegal settlements.

What more is there to talk about with Israel at this point? Nothing. The only solution that mattered to Israel is Israel’s own “solution”, always driven by blind American support, European uselessness and always imposed on the Palestinians and other Arab countries, by force if needed.

The guardians of the grand charade of the two-state solution, who shrewdly crafted the “peace process” and danced to every Israeli tune are now bewildered. They have been outed by Israel’s dreadful plans that shot their “solution” right between the eyes, leaving Palestinians to choose between subjugation, humiliation or imprisonment.

Jonathan Cook is right. The new law is the first step towards the annexing of the West Bank or, at least, most of it. Once small outposts are legalized, they would need to be fortified, (“naturally”) expanded and protected. The military occupation, in effect for 50 years, will no longer be temporary and reversible. Civil law will continue to apply to Jews in Occupied Palestinian Territories and military laws on occupied Palestinians.

It is the very definition of Apartheid, in case you are still wondering.

To meet the “security needs” of the settlers, more “Jewish-only” bypass roads will be constructed, more walls erected, more gates to keep Palestinians away from their land, schools and livelihood will be put up, more checkpoints, more suffering, more pain, more anger and more violence.

That is Israel’s vision. Even Trump is growing frustrated by Israel’s shamelessness and audacity. He called on Israel in an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper to “be reasonable with respect to peace”.

“There is so much land left. And every time you take land for settlements, there is less land left,” Trump said. He is backtracking on promises he made with regard to moving the US embassy and the unchecked expansion of the settlements and more, as he is realizing that Netanyahu and his US supporters have led him to a cliff and are now asking him to jump.

But it matters little, anyway. Whether Trump holds on to his extremely pro-Israel position or reverts to a wishy-washy stance similar to that of his predecessor, Barack Obama, reality is unlikely to change – for only Israel is ultimately allowed to influence outcomes.

Israeli lawmakers’ approval of the bill is, indeed, an end of an era. We have reached the point where we can openly declare that the so-called “peace process” was an illusion from the start, for Israel had no intentions of ever conceding the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian leadership is hardly blameless in all of this.

The greatest mistake that the Palestinian leadership committed (aside from its disgraceful disunity) was entrusting the US, Israel’s main enabler, with managing a “peace process” that has allowed Israel time and resources to finish its colonial projects, while devastating Palestinian rights and political aspirations.

Returning to the same old channels, using the same language, seeking salvation at the altar of the same old “two-state solution” will achieve nothing but waste further time and energy.

But Israel’s humiliating options to the Palestinians can also be read in a different way. Indeed, it is Israel’s obstinacy that is now leaving Palestinians (and Israelis) with one option, and only one option: equal citizenship in one single state or a horrific apartheid and more ethnic cleansing.

In the words of former President Jimmy Carter: “Israel will never find peace until it permit(s) the Palestinians to exercise their basic human and political rights.”

That Israeli “permission” is yet to arrive, leaving the international community with the moral responsibility to exact it.

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is a media consultant, an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com.

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